Windows to safe futures

6 March 2024
Wafa WiSH Blog

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we share an update from Wafa Radhi, Senior Key Worker with Cyrenians, on the hopes and ambitions for our work as the Edinburgh partner in the Women in Safe Homes fund, providing homes and support services for women who have experienced domestic abuse and homelessness.  

As part of my work with Cyrenians on the Women in Safe Homes fund, I’ll be managing a small team of key workers to manage and maintain around thirty flats that are specifically for women fleeing domestic abuse in Edinburgh. 

The fund’s Edinburgh housing provision is part of a UK wide fund created by Resonance and Patron Capital for vulnerable women. Currently, Cyrenians is the only Scottish partner in this innovative solution that provides social housing for women and families in desperate need.  

As a partner in the fund, we will provide a home to around 30 women who have become homeless as a consequence of domestic abuse. The emotional trauma of domestic abuse is hard for anyone to deal with, especially when individuals might also be trying to bring in a sense of normality for their children. With the increased amount of wait times for social housing in the capital, the fund’s housing provision will be more important than ever as a stopgap for women who escaped domestic violence, but who may have to wait 2-3 years for a permanent home. 

I’ve had 20 years of experience working with victims of domestic abuse having worked with all kinds of cases, such as coercive control, physical, psychological or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, harassment / stalking and online or digital abuse. I also helped with special cases where I’ve helped abandoned women and their children, honour-based abuse cases, forced marriage and FGM cases. I learned from my work experience – both with Cyrenians and many years with Shakti Women’s Aid - that domestic abuse affects all ages, races, and beliefs. It’s extremely rewarding to make a difference to the lives of women who are in need, as we’ve all needed help or support at one time or another. Without the correct support, it’s harder to get up when you’re down. 

I’m excited to be a part of the staff team, which will provide practical and emotional support for our clients. For example, helping with family or immigration lawyers, the police, court system, health and education. Our service will empower women through working hand-in-hand with them to regain control of their lives, working collaboratively where we need to with other agencies and departments. We are hoping to make the women we support know that they are not alone in their situation and there is help available to restart a life free of abuse. Our approach will be to give the women we support the space and time to take the right decisions, whilst also empowering them to live their lives independently. We are hoping to welcome our first tenants in the coming weeks. It's an exciting time. I'm ready to meet the women who we will support towards positive futures.

Like the great Persian poet Rumi said:

“If the house of the world’s dark, love will find a way to make windows”.

I believe that the domestic abuse service and the Women in Safe Homes properties are the windows. I look forward to giving you all more updates on the fulfilment of the project.